Buster Olney has stirred up the baseball world the past couple days by breaking the rumor of division realignment, execution of divisions, year around interleague play, and the additional two teams added to the playoff format. Today I will do my best to talk through the points laid out by Buster Olney along with adding things I have heard from my sources on this.
Transferring from NL to AL
According to this format one NL team would have to transfer to the AL to make both divisions at 15 teams. According to several sources if the new CBA says the divisions will remain in tact then there are only 3 viable teams to move from NL to AL. The Astros, Diamondbacks, and Rockies all could move to the AL West. It would be easiest for the Astros because they could just move from the NL Central to the AL West but the only thing holding them back is start times; in the Houston area for games in Seattle and Anaheim maybe too late effecting the TV market greatly. The other two options still affect the Astros because in both scenarios Houston would be sent to the NL West while either the Diamondbacks or Rockies would be sent to the AL West. Rockies make more sense here because it would not affect the TV market as bad making the transfer but still having Houston move to the NL West would cause TV issues in Texas. Of course all of this would be a mute point if they go to a “non-divisional AL/NL league.
If MLB decides to go to the non-divisional leagues for the NL and AL then pretty much any team from the NL could transfer to the AL. According to my sources MLB wants to go to this format and has a short list of teams they would consider to transfer to the AL which include the Pirates, Astros, Diamondbacks, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, and yes… the Cubs. In fact most of the teams I listed may have their fans, GM’s, Presidents, and Owners asking to transfer leagues for many reasons, but number one being revenue. AL teams historically make more money on TV and in ticket sales than NL teams, not to mention the buzz around the transferring team going to the AL. If you are the Cubs and you transfer to the AL you will see teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers, Angels, etc… teams your fan base usually do not have access to which in turn will generate more ticket sales in your home ball park and also in other ball parks where Cubs fans are present.
Having said all that the Astros to the AL makes the most sense and what they will eventually do.
Death to Divisions
If the transition does take place I think having two 15 team leagues is the only way to go. Yes the excitement for the race for first place and the wild card in the present divisional alignment is great but not fair. How is it fair that a team with an 86-76 record wins a division but a 90+ win not make the playoffs because they don’t win their division or the WC. Removing the divisions eliminates this because the 5 playoff spots in each league will be the 5 best teams in each league. Another thing that would benefit is the trade deadline, with only 5 spot and 15 teams in each league by the deadline it would be easier to determine if you are a buyer or seller. Two leagues with no divisions sound like a win-win to me!
More Playoff Teams Please!
Along with all the talk about the possible changes in the new CBA one thing everyone is over looking is each league will gain one playoff team. I am in the minority in thinking the addition of another playoff team does not water down the field but increases attention paid to MLB and attendance around baseball. Not to mention if this does go to non-divisional leagues then the top team in each league would get a first-round bye causing more teams to play their everyday players down the stretch which would also increase competiveness in the later parts of the season. Just adding more teams to playoffs make sense baseball wise and financially.
More Interleague Play???
By baseball making both leagues even they are actually making each one odd. Having 15 teams in each league mean one team from each league would have to play each other because you cannot go everyday with two teams sitting out. Even if you rotated the days so you play 14 games then got the 15th game off it still would not work because of travel, scheduling, etc… So the only option is making interleague play year around which again I think increases TV viewing and tickets prices in a good way. I am all for interleague play!
What about DH?
Since I established that we will have a two 15 team leagues with year around Interleague play that brings up one of the most touchy things in baseball circles; the DH. Now logically you say you just leave it how it is and when you play in an AL park you use the DH and in the NL you let the pitcher hit. Honestly I think all of baseball should go to where the pitcher hits but that causes another big problem. You would have 15 DH players being paid a large amount of cash to basically be a part-time player or they could force another everyday player to rid the bench more. So if they did implement that then you would have a shift players and positions which would just cause a headache in baseball. You could go to the DH only in baseball but trying to get the owners and fans in the NL to approve that would be too difficult so keeping it the way it is just makes sense.
A Case for the Cubs in the AL
Now I know I rocked some boats by saying the Cubs are on the short list of teams that could be moved to the AL. Don’t kill the messenger, I am just reporting what I am hearing and I don’t like the idea either. But for journalism sake I am going to play the devils advocate and look at the pros of transferring leagues-
1. More excitement initially around the Cubs.
2. More revenue generated from the move to the AL. Renewed interest in the team.
3. Chance to play against teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, Orioles, Rangers, etc…
4. The chance to actually use the DH on an everyday basis.
5. The DH can solve your “Soriano in LF” problem. You place him at DH and you don’t have to worry about him getting hurt or hurting the team in the field.
6. Allows the Cubs to build their team differently.
7. Easier to lure big bats and non-hitting pitchers to the AL than the NL.
8. Increases the rivalry between the White Sox and Cubs while creating new rivalries with teams like the Twins, Tigers, Royals, Indians, etc…
9. Creates a new excitement around Chicago Cubs baseball and would be a marketing coordinators dream.
10. No matter what they will still be the Chicago Cubs.
Again having the Cubs in the AL would hurt me and I think hurt baseball because the Cubs are National League baseball. To think the Cubs winning the World Series but hoisting it up as the winner in the AL does not feel right to me. I will say out of the “short list” of teams I think the Cubs are the less likely to make the move to the AL which is fine by me.
So what is your take on the possibility of Divisional Realignment and everything it entails?
Leave a comment! Discuss!
Until Next Time….